Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Mist King Urth
Genres: Pop, Rock
Listen to Samples
Mist King Urth shames everything else right now
chris horn | Canton, Ohio United States | 04/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You're in a record store. Imagine you're blind-folded. You're spun around & sent out to fish something. You grab the first cd or record you feel. Now, what are the chances it's something Robert Pollard had a hand in? Pretty damn good chances. I am aware that all of Pollard's work is normally filed under Guided By Voices, however, not all record stores are that tipped off, whether they have it or not. So, at any rate, Robert Pollard and Doug Gillard have graciously accepted the invitation by their own talents to reunite as a duo. Only this time they are an actual band. Well, they use a band name this time, and so the debut album by Lifeguards has been released. The first round, "Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department," was an era of straight-forward asthetics and juicy, well-written melodies for Pollard. Now he's chipping away more of the ceiling that most popular music has hit & gone spiraling into the bottomless pit. Not that I feel Pollard has large influence. In fact, most of the ceiling he chips away at is his own. I'd like to make sure you know I'm implying that his own celing is pretty high up there, looking down only to see remnants of Beatles ceiling, Sabbath ceiling, or ELP (see the end of "First of an Early Go-Getter") or whatever else you get on your shirt after listening to "Mist King Urth." Oddly enough, one may get a little Argent schmutz (again, see "First of an Early Go-Getter".) Take "Society Dome," a "Bee Thousand" sensibility where Pollard and Gillard take "The Two of Us" and make it right. Ian Gillian is left wishing he would've sung "Shorter Virgins." "No Chains Breaking" smacks of everything one looks for in a Pollard-Gillard composition. "Surgeon Is Complete" would have made Sabbath's "Volume 4" complete. Tobin Sprout seems to have inspired "Then We Agree," with it's infectous chorus, that easily rivals "Hey Jude's" prompt for an end-of-song sing-along. "Red Whips and Miracles" would've fit snugly into "Under the Bushes, Under the Stars." "Starts At the River" is pure Pollard and Gillard. Three completely diverse instrumentals by Gillard are sandwiched in there that are just as poetic as Pollard's free-verse lyrics.
Pollard and Gillard have been working together for almost a decade & so they are joined at the hip musically. That has never been more aparent than on "Mist King Urth." I can't recall another songwriting duo that understands the art of a song more than these two. When I think of the evolution of rock music, Pollard & company are in an elite yet tiny group that not only have headed north on the growth chart, but have well exceded the growth percentage rate in the last ten years of rock's senior citizen status. Then of course, there is their personal growth rate. Well, that kind of specific charting is something only Pollard completists are privvy to (see Circus Devils, Pollard solo.) With this release, he is setting a standard for what his next excursions will be like (see Phantom Tollbooth, Guided By Voices.) Lifeguards plays out like rock should. It has all the energy of a group of highschool Sabbath fans starting a garage band yet achieves moments of bliss.
Yes~ buy this album."
No Chain Breaking
William Scalzo | Niagara Falls, NY | 01/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Throughout the latter half of the long and wildly successful history of Guided by Voices, Robert Pollard kept promising (or threatening, depending on your point of view) to do a full-on Progressive Rock album. Now that GBV is defunct, I guess Lifeguards is as close as we'll ever get.
The advance word on Lifeguards "Mist King Urth" was that it was Pollard's long-awaited Prog album. Now I happen to love classic Prog so this CD was one in the Fading Captain Series that I was really looking forward to. And I do love it quite a bit, although the Prog influence isn't what one might have expected. Doug Gillard plays all the instruments and Pollard contributes vocals and lyrics, although there are several instrumentals. This CD does indeed have a very 70's art rock vibe to it, but it is after all a GBV-related product so rest assured there are several short songs with plenty of GBV weirdness to keep it original.
As a multi-instrumentalist myself I have to point out Doug Gillard's amazing talent and versatility. He is simply all over this CD on just about every instrument you can think of, all played with his usual precision, chops and hooks. Check out the outro of "1st of an Early Go-Getter" for an incredible one-man simulation of vintage Yes-type prog. Awesome.
Elsewhere, Pollard wraps his warped melodies and poetic lyrics around a variety of Gillard soundscapes, with some appropriately strange instrumentals to break things up. The epic closer, "Red Whips and Miracles," features a long avant-garde piano break that might not be for everyone, but I love it. The whole track is one of my all-time GBV-related favorites, which is saying something in my book.
"Mist King Urth" does not have the usual quotient of Pollard's jaw-droppingly killer melodies ("Then We Agree" comes closest,) but then again it doesn't need 'em since it's not that kind of a record.
Mist King Urth Takes Over The World.....almost.
K. Spahr | Springfield, OH | 04/24/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While still in the throes of wrapping my head around this, it's time to spread the word. The natural inclination is to compare the new Lifeguards set with the previous Pollard/Gillard release, Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department. The fact is that SKOYVFD is chock full of instant classics where MKU is more like a single malt scotch, straight up...an acquired taste. The MKU disc starts with an odd instrumental, "Gift Of The Mountain", that could be something Doug warms up with every morning when he plugs in...four chords and a cloud of dust. "Starts At The River" has a big guitar sound and oodles of Bob-ness. "First Of An Early Go-Getter" is a great change of pace tune whose odd time signatures and heavy beat bring a mix of King Crimson/Argent (Hold Your Head Up!) together with the urgent Quadrophenia feel Bob always strives for. Thankfully, the next cut, "Society Dome" brings the boys back home to a fuzzy acoustic, bass driven number featuring great harmonies. "Shorter Virgins" AGGGHHHH!!!This is on my "must see live" list of GBV related tunes. More closely related to the Circus Devils sounds of "Straps Hold Up The Jaw", this guitar, pile-driver, rave-up allows Doug to shine. When I first heard this, I pictured Bob hearing it for the first time on tape and grinning ear to ear thinking of the possibilities. The next cut, "No Chain Breaking" harkens back to the old SKOYVFD disc with the melody being completely Bob driven and Doug supplying the fantastic filler. Since I'm probably running out of time, I'll make the rest short and sweet: "Sea Of Dead" is a short instrumental that George Harrison could have sculpted. "Surgeon Is Complete" shows Doug is as talented on bass as he is guitar and breaks into a jazzy little interlude on the chorus. "Then We Agree" is more like old Bob in the basement strumming the six string. "Fether Herd", yet another instrumental, this one designed to prove Dougs worth on the skins (is that Jim Pollard providing odd noises over the drum track?). "Red Whips and Miracles" is a piano/bass/drums work that takes time to come to grips with. Bob starts out singing but ends up in a talking vocal style that almost makes me wonder if he ran out of melody....probably an appropriate way to end the disc though. Through all this, I found the disc highly enjoyable but I still miss the days (and sounds) of Bob holed up in his bedroom writing tunes and then working them out with the band...The idea of one guy doing the music and another doing the vocals was a good experiment (ala Airport 5) but I'm starting to feel a disconnect between the music and the lyrics...something I'm not used too with GBV and Robert Pollard. Anyways, buy the disc! You won't regret it."